The turbinates are bony structures covered with hypervascular mucosa; they play an important role for humidification, heating and purification of the inhaled air. In some individuals, affected by allergic or vasomotor rhinitis, they are swollen and obstruct the nasal passage causing a respiratory impairment.
Obstruction is more evident during the night sleep as the congestion is increased while lying in bed and mouth breathing is promoted. Nasal secretions can also be increased. Snoring can be favored by turbinate hypertrophy, although snoring is a complex and multifactorial phenomenon.
If medical treatment does not give satisfying results, a surgical reduction of the turbinates can be a solution. A submucosal reduction can be easily performed under pure local anesthesia or with some mild sedation in a day hospital procedure. In my practice to achieve a bloodless reduction of the inferior turbinates I utilize the Coblation (= Controlled Ablation) device: a kind of needle is inserted in the depth of the turbinate and allows to shrink its soft tissue by bipolar radiofrequency without altering the covering mucosa, which has to be spared as it fulfills an important function for air purification.
Usually no pain is perceived and no nasal packing is necessary after the procedure and the patient can go back to work the day after surgery. It is advisable to avoid maximal efforts for a week after surgery.